Palmerston North to have the first fully electric bus network in the country

Horizons Regional Council is thrilled to announce Palmerston North will have the first fully electric bus fleet in the country from 19 February 2024.

Horizons chair Rachel Keedwell says the council invited a number of involved parties to Te Marae o Hine – The Square this afternoon to share the news after Council made the decision to make the fleet fully electric via a recent tender process.
“Introducing 42 brand new electric buses is an exciting and fantastic step forward for decarbonising public transport in the city,” says Cr Keedwell.
“These buses will service the upcoming new and improved Palmerston North and Ashhurst network, which will more than double the number of current bus trips available. I’m really proud of our council for making the bold move to go fully electric and removing the current fleet of 26 diesel buses from circulation.
“This decision supports Horizons and the city in achieving our goals of reducing emissions from transport, including from our bus fleet, and gets Palmerston North closer to the city council’s eco-city aspirations. There is currently only one electric bus in the Palmerston North fleet, so the new total will be 43, making one of the largest electric bus fleets in the country too.
“Buses at peak times will be every 15 minutes on every route, and 30 minutes outside these times and on weekends, meaning options for getting around the city will be frequent.
“Along with having zero emissions, the new bus fleet will be quieter, provide a smoother ride and be more attractive and comfortable for users. The new buses also have a range of more than 300kms so they can undertake a full day in service without needing to charge.”
Cr Keedwell says she hopes city residents will make the most of the new network when it starts and play a role in reducing emissions.
“Bus stops across the city are also getting upgraded and installed in new locations thanks to Palmerston North City Council and Horizons successfully securing $7 million of funding from central government’s Climate Emergency Response Fund late last year,” she says.
“These upgrades will include real time bus tracking information making the bus an attractive and reliable option for people looking to shift from private vehicles.”
Member of Parliament for Palmerston North Tangi Utikere adds that he’s pleased the Government signals for New Zealanders to reduce emissions is getting through as the tenders Horizons received were predominately electric.
“Through the Emissions Reduction Plan public transport is identified as playing a key role in the transition to net zero, and as we look to the future it is more important than ever to have effective, reliable, and accessible public transport services in place.
“The Government has worked hard to reduce New Zealand's emissions, so it's great to see Horizons leading the way with a fully electric bus fleet, giving Palmerston North residents the opportunity to transition to low emission travel options.”
Cr Keedwell says the contract has been awarded to Tranzit Group Ltd through a highly competitive tender process which involved a number of very capable suppliers.
“Tranzit bring a proven track record of delivering bus services in Palmerston North and we look forward to working with them to deliver this incredible change,” says Cr Keedwell.
“Over the coming months the electric buses will be brought into the country and prepared to join the new network which begins on 19 February 2024. The network was the outcome of public consultation in late 2021, and Horizons and PNCC will be engaging with the community over the coming months on the supporting infrastructure.
“The network will cost $11.3 million per year and is funded by passenger fares, funding agreements with tertiary organisations, Waka Kotahi and Horizons ratepayers in Palmerston North.
“Palmerston North ratepayers will see an increase for public transport services with the 1 July 2023 cost of $13 per $100,000 of capital value increasing to $19 once the service is fully up and running in 2024. However, jumping on board the new high frequency network will quickly provide a cost saving compared to running a private vehicle, as well as lowering emissions.
Waka Kotahi director regional relationships Linda Stewart says they praise Horizons' move to be the first fully electrified bus fleet in New Zealand.
“Horizons Regional Council should be commended for their bold decision making, commitment to emissions reduction and leadership," she says.
The new bus network is a core project in the Palmerston North Integrated Transport Initiative's (PNITI) programme. It is part of one wider package of work to improve safety and access for people in the city, alongside other projects such as speed management, improved walking and cycling facilities.
Connect, the brand for Horizons regional transport, will be present on all buses operating in the Palmerston North fleet. For more information about public transport in the region please see here.